Archive | July 2017

Turning Slowly

I didn’t see Mom over the weekend because I was back-to-back-to-back with other commitments. Until recently, I felt so guilty if I couldn’t take her to church. But now half the time we (my niece or I) go to pick her up on a Sunday morning, she’s still in bed – even though we’ve given up on 9:30 Sunday school to give her an extra hour of sleep. So I ┬ájust called her caregivers and told them they could let her sleep in yesterday and I’d come by later.

After work today I dropped by with her rent check and the new lightweight “transfer” wheelchair. It’s going to be great. I sat in it for the hour that I visited with Mom, and it’s quite comfortable. It folds up nicely and is light enough that I can pick it up and carry it under one arm. (Well, maybe not under one arm with the footrests attached.) Mom looked great, bright-eyed and alert; and when I asked how her knees were doing, she said they’re not bothering her so much and showed me that she could bend the knees and stretch out her legs without pain.

I noticed a couple of things that tell me things are changing, though.

Her memory, which has been on a plateau for these last couple years, seems to have slipped a bit further. She asked how my day was, and I regaled her with a story of the ridiculousness of my Monday at work. A brief pause, while I rub her calves and she looks at the TV, then she looks back up at me. “So, how was your day?” I found an unopened envelope on the table next to her bed from her sister, Alice, and handed it to her. She opened it up and read the letter out loud to me, two sides of one sheet of paper, typed in large print. She finished the letter, turned the page over to the first side, and said “Oh, I haven’t read this. Should I read it out loud?”

Also, she seemed to be having a little trouble reading parts of the letter, and I couldn’t tell if it was her eyesight (she does have macular degeneration) or if she was getting confused. I’m going to ask her caregivers if she’s still actually reading the pile of books on her end table. It may be time to quietly remove most of them and replace them with large print books. And if anyone has suggestions for a device to play audio books that an 89-year-old dementia patient can manage, please let me know.

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Time for a Wheelchair

Mom was stable for a long time. She gets such good care where she lives, and we were in an easy routine, and I felt like I didn’t have anything to write about in this blog. So I let it go…

Earlier this year, I came to the difficult decision that I won’t be able to take her back to Ohio to visit family anymore. The long flights are just too difficult for someone with incontinence and dementia; the potential for a bad situation that would make the flight miserable for everyone was just too high. I agonized over making that decision, knowing it would mean she will never see certain members of her family again in this life… but the time had come. My first priority in caring for her is to keep her safe and to keep her out of distressing situations.

Today I realized that we’ve reached another milestone. Her legs have become so weak, she could hardly make it from the door of the house to the car parked in the driveway, even with her walker. I took her to have brunch with her two granddaughters, my nieces, and parked directly across the street from the door to the restaurant. That short of a walk was too much for her, and she had to stop and sit on a bench in front of the restaurant. She’s gone from a slightly shuffling gate to dragging herself along, leaning so heavily on the walker that I kept my arm around her in case she toppled over. When we got back to her care home, she had barely taken two steps from the car before she told me she was afraid she was going to fall. I walked behind her, holding onto her hips with both hands, reassuring her that I wouldn’t let her fall… But she faltered at the single step up to the door of the facility, and I had to ring the bell for help. Mom was bent nearly double over the walker when the door opened, and the caregiver took one look at her and called for a wheelchair.

Once we’d gotten her comfortably settled in her recliner, I quietly thanked the caregiver and told her that I think I need to buy a wheelchair. She nodded and said gently, “It’s time.”

This entry was posted on July 16, 2017. 7 Comments